Constructor: Helen Chen
Relative issue: Easy
THEME: BLACKJACK (34A: *Casino sport related to the sum of this puzzle’s shaded squares) — “playing cards” totaling “21” are discovered inside casino-related phrases:
- PLACES A BET (17A: *Wagers on the on line casino (11))
- AMOUNT WON (25A: *Profit on the on line casino (+2 = 13))
- FACE CARDS (48A: *They’re price 10 factors on the on line casino (+1 = 14))
- BREAKS EVEN (56A: *Has a wash on the on line casino (+7 = 21!))
Word of the Day: Max STEINER (13D: Max ___, Academy Award-winning composer of “Now, Voyager”) —
Maximilian Raoul Steiner (May 10, 1888 – December 28, 1971) was an Austrian composer and conductor who, threatened with internment in Germany throughout WW1, fled to England earlier than emigrating to America in 1914 and have become a celebrated composer for movie and theatre. He was a toddler prodigy who carried out his first operetta when he was twelve and have become a full-time skilled, proficient at composing, arranging, and conducting, by the point he was fifteen. // Steiner labored in England, then Broadway, and in 1929, he moved to Hollywood, the place he turned one of many first composers to jot down music scores for movies. He is known as “the daddy of movie music“, as Steiner performed a serious half in creating the custom of writing music for movies, together with composers Dimitri Tiomkin, Franz Waxman, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Alfred Newman, Bernard Herrmann, and Miklós Rózsa. // Steiner composed over 300 movie scores with RKO Pictures and Warner Bros., and was nominated for twenty-four Academy Awards, successful three: The Informer (1935); Now, Voyager (1942); and Since You Went Away (1944). Besides his Oscar-winning scores, a few of Steiner’s standard works embrace King Kong (1933), Little Women(1933), Jezebel (1938), and Casablanca (1942), although he didn’t compose its love theme, “As Time Goes By“. In addition, Steiner scored The Searchers (1956), A Summer Place (1959), and Gone with the Wind (1939), which ranked second on the AFI‘s listing of finest American movie scores, and is the movie rating for which he’s finest identified. (wikipedia)
• • •
I’ve to confess that I do not fairly perceive this one. Admittedly, I am unable to consider very many locations I’d much less wish to be than a on line casino, so there’s an inherent matter aversion, besides I can normally recognize or at the least perceive a fundamental card theme. But right here … I imply, to be clear, I perceive the BLACKJACK idea completely. The playing cards whole 21, the best rating within the sport, so presumably you “win” in the long run, but it surely appears like there should be some ingredient that I’m lacking, since merely placing 4 playing cards that whole 21 in some phrases would not appear … difficult sufficient. Thursday sufficient. I see that these phrases are themselves playing phrases, in order that makes the theme considerably tighter than a traditional “hidden phrases”-type puzzle can be (normally such “hidden phrases” seem in fully non-thematic phrases). But no matter is gained by having the theme be tighter in that manner is unquestionably misplaced by the truth that the phrases themselves simply aren’t that robust, notably the primary two: PLACES A BET (arbitrary Third-person verb phrase, à la “EATS A SANDWICH”) and AMOUNT WON, which feels actually flaccid and peculiar. Zero robust associations with the on line casino. You have “winnings” for positive, however AMOUNT WON appears like a line on some imaginary receipt. Bizarre. Further, the “playing cards” aren’t notably nicely embedded, in that solely two of them (TWO and SEVEN) break throughout two phrases, the way in which a “hidden phrase” ought to, ideally. And then there’s the pointless remedialness of the parenthetical components of the theme clues. I suppose these clues are attempting to create some narrative vitality, however … the revealer has already instructed me the sport I’m enjoying, and the “playing cards” are highlighted inside their solutions so I can see them and … I can rely, so … no matter drama the parentheses have been presupposed to be creating felt oddly condescending. Like the sport was being taught to a toddler. Also, the climactic “21!” is type of undercut by occurring within the clue for the very non-triumphant phrase BREAKS EVEN. Again, casinos should not my milieu. I’ve needed to stroll by means of them a pair instances to get to live shows, however I’ve by no means voluntarily hung out there. So possibly I’m not the correct viewers for this puzzle. But I am unable to think about even an inveterate gambler would discover this theme that compelling, not to mention difficult. If there is a component of the theme that I’ve failed to understand, please, let me know.
Just a few extra issues:
- 29A: Certain buckwheat pancake (BLIN) — the singular of the rather more acquainted BLINI. Always appears bizarre to me within the singular.
- 4D: Fleece (SHEAR) — oh, this additionally precipitated me bother. You SHEAR sheep to *get* “Fleece” (n.) … however I suppose “Fleece” (v.) can also be a synonym of SHEAR (although I’ve solely ever heard it used within the metaphorical sense, i.e. should you get overcharged or scammed or in any other case fraudulently separated out of your cash, you have been “fleeced”).
- 1A: Part of the deck from which a seller offers (TOP) — you hope. The puzzle tries to throw somewhat bonus thematic content material your manner right here, and at ANTE (19A: It goes in the course of a desk). I’m extra excited about getting *away* from the theme and again to consuming MILK DUDs whereas watching “Now, Voyager” (w/ rating by Max STEINER). Sounds like a very good plan for this wet day. See you tomorrow.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld